Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Against the Drug War

Here's an extremely superficial hit piece on Ron Paul regarding his support for ending the War on Drugs.

Regarding whether drug use harms other people:

"[O]ne can be a casual consumer of alcohol. One cannot be a casual user of cocaine or meth."

First, what about marijuana? Second, while I certainly don't recommend it, we've had numerous examples of causal users of cocaine - Oprah ... Freud ... our last two presidents. Third, the drug war actually created our meth problem. Finally, the war on drugs hurts a LOT of people. In the last few years, tens of thousands of people have been killed due to our war on drugs in Mexico alone. People were no longer mowed down from violence in the whiskey trade as soon as the federal government legalized it in the 1930's.

The author also claims that rehab doesn't work, so we have to keep pushing the drug war.

"The other problem is the spotty record of rehab in curing people from addiction to drugs. One can only point to the bad examples of Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan to conclude that rehab more often than not does not take and, at the very least, needs to be repeated a number of time until a person is off the pipe or is dead."

He's saying that rehab is ineffective, so our only option is to continue pursuing the drug war. Well, how effective has the War on Drugs been since we started it half a century ago? Consider what we've received in exchange for the $1 trillion or so it's cost us so far.

-No real decrease in the number of drug users
-More dangerous drugs (i.e. meth) have been created as cheaper alternatives because of higher street prices for traditional drugs such as cocaine
-Hundreds of thousands of dead people
-The militarization of local police forces and the institutionalization of unnecessarily dangerous SWAT team home invasions

The drug war has been a complete failure. There is no part of it that can be viewed with any degree of success. We've spent a trillion dollars, and have not achieved any progress on any of its goals. Many things are actually far worse. Even so, few are willing to reconsider whether it is worth pursuing.

Ron Paul is one of the few elected officials principled enough to hold his ground on this issue, despite knowing full well that it will result in unfair caricatures of his actual beliefs. Why isn't the burden on the Drug War advocates to explain why we should keep pursuing an expensive, tragic policy that has not worked at all for the last 50 years? Do they need more time? More money? More laws?

We've tried all of those things. It's time we try something else.

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